Tuesday, September 7, 2010
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Go behind the scenes of a
NASCAR team as they prepare for raceday.
Want to know more about camber, caster and toe?
Learn what happens when your car goes in for a front end
Ahoy hearties! The time is fast approaching to talk like a pirate!
Learn when and
Tip of the Week
New education benefits for veterans were signed into law in July of
2008. Benefits are tiered based on the number of days served on
active duty. While the Post-9/11 GI Bill offers greater benefits,
figuring out just who is entitled to what can be very confusing.
Get the details along with information on
"Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine." - Elvis Presley
Today in History
1896 - A. H. Whiting wins the first closed-circuit auto race which
was held in Cranston, RI.
Bill Elliott holds the record for fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR
at 212.809 MPH at Talladega in 1987.
Have a comment about something you read in GCFlash? Suggestions for
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Does your heart race at 6,000 rpm? Learn how GCF can
put you behind the wheel of your dream ride.
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THE SCIENCE OF TURNING LEFT
The National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) is
winding down its regular season. The final 10 races represent the
series' version of a playoff system dubbed the "Chase to the
So why all the hoopla? What's all the fuss about jumping into the
driver's seat and turning left?
Avid fans of the sport know that the thrill extends far past
cheering on your favorite driver. They understand that races aren't
usually won or lost on the track. The competition begins well before
the rubber meets the road.
Folks, allow me to introduce you to the science of turning left.
Let's start with an analogy to the stick-and-ball sports many of you
are familiar with. In the National Football League (NFL), every field
has standard dimensions of 120 yards end zone to end zone and 160
feet wide. Every baseball field requires 90 feet between bases with
60 feet 6 inches separating the pitcher's mound and batter's box.
Ice rinks used by the National Hockey League (NHL) are all 200 feet
long and 85 feet wide with a 28 degree corner radius. NBA courts are
94 feet long and 50 feet wide no matter which town the league visits.
A lot of strategy goes into preparing for game day. You study your
opponent to learn their strengths and weaknesses. A game plan is
developed to make the best use of your own team's talent to shut down
their power performers and attacking their vulnerabilities. You take
the field and it's game on.
NASCAR teams face the same competitors week after week. Drivers have
to know each other's racing style and personalities to make key
decisions on the track. Does Driver A wheel a car more aggressively?
Will he spin me out if I pass him? Driver B likes the high lane next
to the wall. Might he hit it and bounce back down into me? Driver C
is a rookie. Will he move out of my way if he's running much slower
than the rest of the field or will he defend his ground and cause a
wreck when the faster cars bunch up behind him?
That's where the similarity ends. Actual preparation for the event
requires much more attention to detail than the casual observer can
There is no standard playing field when it comes to race tracks.
Length ranges from .526 miles in Martinsville, VA to the 2.66 mile
tri-oval in Talladega, AL. The turns can be banked anywhere from
Talladega's 33 degrees to the practically flat 9 degrees of
Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The length of a given race can vary from
218 to 600 miles.
Fuel and tires have to last not only the entire race, but longer in
case of a late race caution that brings on overtime. Three attempts
may be made to assure a race ends competitively rather than following
a pace car.
And contrary to popular myth, drivers have to turn right as well as
left at the road courses in Watkins Glen, NY and Somona, CA where the
mountains add elevation changes to the mix.
What mix is that, you might be wondering? It's the elusive goal of
setting the car up properly to maximize traction. It's calculating
exactly how to get the best grip between tire and track for each and
every venue you visit. Because, as you may have already guessed, the
formula for racing around Talladega is quite different from how
you'll have to setup the car to be successful at Martinsville or the
NASCAR makes the race teams adhere to strict requirements in
attempts to make the playing field as safe and level as possible.
Certain parts of the car may not deviate in any way, shape or form.
Other areas are fair game where teams can pool their genius to come
up with the right setup to end the day in Victory Lane.
Race teams must conform to sanctioned body templates that dictate
the exact dimensions of the racecar, and differ for the variety of
track configurations. For example, cars can gain wicked speeds at a
high-banked superspeedway 2 miles or longer. A higher spoiler can
help keep the car from launching airborne by creating downforce in
the air stream it creates traveling in excess of 200 miles per hour.
That isn't necessary on a short track where average speeds are less
than 100 miles per hour.
NASCAR dictates fuel-related issues. Every car has the same size
fuel cell and mixture. Goodyear provides the same tire construction
and compound to every team in the garage.
That leaves the suspension. And while there are tolerances the team
has to stay within, there is plenty of room for experimenting with
the proper setup to achieve that all-important traction.
Teams may alter the camber or caster of the spindle between the
upper and lower ball joints. You don't have to worry about such
things with your personal ride, your mechanic has it covered. These
are among the measurements considered when you get your front end
The caster is the difference between the front tires' vertical
centerline and that of the steering axis. Your car is usually set
between +2 and +6 degrees.
But a racecar has different factors to take into account. Primarily,
the track they'll be racing on. The steeper the angle of caster, the
more responsive your steering. So at Daytona, the caster might be
setup with both wheels somewhere between 7 and 8 degrees. But at
Martinsville, you might have 2 degrees in your left front and 4 in
your right front to make the car steer more naturally to the right on
such a short track.
The camber is similar but measures the wheel leaning inward or
outward in relationship to the vehicle. Negative camber results in a
wheel leaning inward with its top closer to the vehicle than the
bottom. Positive is the opposite. Teams tinker with camber to find
the right degree to provide the best contact and traction. But too
much and you'll be in the pits multiple times with a blown tire. Once
you set the camber, you're stuck with it for the entire race. It
isn't something you can adjust during the race.
Teams can alter their shock packages within limits NASCAR mandates.
This is a change that can be made by the pit crew mid-race to make a
car looser or tighter on the track. Too tight and a car won't turn,
too loose and its rear end dances out of control. A car might be
tight going into a turn and loose coming out of it. Or loose in one
turn, tight in another. Even the most elite teams in the sport can
struggle finding the right balance.
Once you do hit on the right setup for a given track, jot it down
quickly in your notebook. But only pay it nominal heed. For your next
visit may find the weather hotter than the first. Or you might be
racing at night rather than the heat of the day. Track temperature
plays a large role in tire wear and track speed. Rubber breaks down
with heat, giving almost a hydroplaning effect to the ride. Grip is
best in cooler temperatures.
The role of the engineering shop in NASCAR is equal to that of the
driver. So it comes as no surprise that the teams best-funded, who
can afford the best talent and access the most current technology,
will regularly find themselves competing for the series title year
after year. Those less-funded will begin working on next year's
efforts and have a chance to experiment a bit the rest of the season.
I've only just scratched the surface here. If I were to cover every
technical aspect that can affect the results of a race, you would
still be reading this article when the green flag drops on Sunday. So
instead of reading further, experience it for yourself. Watch an
event through a technical eye and prepare to feel your heart race.
EDITORIAL: THAT SEPTEMBER DAY
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do
not represent GCF Bank, its management or its policies.
Country music star Alan Jackson stirs us to remember the darkest day
in our nation's history when he asks "Where were you when the world
stopped turning that September day?"
The painful memory it awakens is vivid to us all.
I was alone at work that day when my husband called. "A plane just
hit the World Trade Center." His words were unimaginable. It had to
be a freak accident, it just didn't make sense.
A few short minutes later I answered the phone again to learn the
second plane just struck and two others had deviated from their
normal route. One struck the Pentagon, the other downed in a
Pennsylvania field when passengers thwarted the terrorist's plans to
strike the White House.
The reality just couldn't sink in. Throughout history, America
prided herself on stopping hostile fire before it reached our ground.
We were secure here.
What a difference a day makes.
The immediate aftermath saw a nation mourning nearly 3000 innocent
victims from 70 different countries. Americans were united in shock,
spirit and purpose.
The typical conspiracy theories emerged. But the masses were in
agreement, urging our officials to take whatever steps necessary to
prevent such a tragedy from occurring on shores ever again.
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) developed new
guidelines for those traveling on airlines. Grandma and grandpa can
no longer wait at the end of ramp, anxiously searching for their
grandchildren's faces amongst the other arriving passengers.
The USA Patriot Act was passed, easing restrictions on information
gathering in attempts to identify future plots before they are
carried out. Protectors of our civil liberties protested the threat
to individual privacy. Proponents of the Act were quite willing to
sacrifice their own privileges in an effort to circumvent future
The Pentagon damage was repaired within a year with a Memorial built
adjacent to the building.
A new office tower was completed in 2006 where 7 World Trade Center
formerly stood. What will become one of the tallest buildings in
North America is under construction at 1 World Trade Center, slated
for completion in 2013.
Construction underway on the Flight 93 National Memorial in
Shanksville, PA is expected to be ready for the 10th anniversary of
the attacks next year.
Yet physical damage is the easiest to repair. And the very act that
united us nine short years ago threatens to further divide us today.
The proposal to build a mosque two blocks from the former site of
the World Trade Center has brought heated controversy. Supporters
believe the mosque will serve as a symbol of unity. Opponents view it
as disrespect to those who gave their lives on September 11, 2001.
The mere proposal has served to fracture the American people.
Rather than uniting as a nation to mourn the losses suffered on this
tragic anniversary, one Florida church is planning to burn Korans.
Anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. is stronger today than it was in
2001 when the smoke finally stopped smoldering. Emotions are still
The attacks were rightly attributed to an extremist group when they
first occurred. That fact seems to have been long forgotten in the
Perhaps those terrorists gained even more than they hoped when
planning their deeds of destruction. For the aftershocks are still
being felt nine years later.
The glass is half full this week with recent good news on private-
sector payrolls, manufacturing and housing economic indicators. In
addition, the yield on the 10-year Treasury increased last week to
2.71 percent on Friday, from 2.47 percent earlier in the week. The
news has helped ease growing concern about a double-dip recession.
The other half of the glass has mixed news with unemployment rising
to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent the previous week.
Steps toward economic growth are being tossed around in the form of
tax incentives for business. President Barack Obama will call for
increasing bonus depreciation for purchased business equipment from
50 percent to 100 percent and extending the tax break through 2011, a
White House official said. The proposal is to make the change
retroactive to Sept. 8, 2010 with an expected cost to taxpayers of
$30 billion. The measure applies to capital investment including
office, factory and transportation equipment. This type of
infrastructure will reduce the cost of business improvements or
expansion, encouraging job growth. In this election year, we'll see
what gets done!
Today’s Market Rates
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Dow Jones Industrial Average
(Down 87.36 or 0.84% since 12/31/09)
(Down 23.26 or 2.09% since 12/31/09)
(Down 60.26 or 2.66% since 12/31/09)
|10 Year Treasury Bond Yield
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